Monthly Archives: August 2004

Orcs and shotguns

Last week’s quote (We should have shotguns for this kind of deal.) was of course from Pulp Fiction. The new one is difficulty: Formidable, 4 points.
I usually update the Media Room (bottom of the sidebar) with the quote, but since my DSL hasn’t been connected yet I’m using a weak wireless signal that I’m picking up from somewhere–weak enough that I would rather spare myself the annoyance of doing this on an intermittent connection and do it later. If you’re really curious, I’m on to the second season of The West Wing, listening to (among others) Light and Magic by Ladytron, and re-reading Altered Carbon for RPG purposes (although it’s not as if this is a chore). Haven’t had time to see any movies (or play Doom 3), but Hero is next on the list.

Margaret Cho on shyness

This post on Margaret Cho’s blog is ultimately about Bush and the Republican convention, but more interesting to me were her comments at the beginning on her struggle with shyness:

I am a painfully shy person.
This poses many challenges of course, especially because I have put myself in a very un-shy profession, which forces me not only to speak in front of thousands of strangers daily, it constantly brings me into the company of people I have never met before.
It is difficult for me to have conversations, which is something that I am actively seeking to change. Whenever I am put in a situation where I am sharing a space with someone I don’t know, I try to get to know them, almost aggressively, as if I could make up for all those years of self imposed isolation.
It is strange how we can be solitary in the midst of crowds of people. I have lived this way for my entire life. Aloneness is not an uncomfortable thing for me, in fact, it feels a bit too much like home. So I attempt to venture out as much as I can. Of course, there is a natural resistance to it, but fighting my own nature in this case I believe is a positive thing. Besides, I am learning a tremendous amount.

A lot of this is very familiar (and may sound familiar to my regular readers). I’ve found that the aggressiveness she talks about is an important part of the strategy—not in the sense of having an aggressive tone in conversation, but being aggressive in seizing opportunities to interact with people, where I would ordinarily be restrained by shyness. There’s a snowball effect during even a moment of hesitation wherein my doubts multiply to overwhelm my self-confidence, but it I jump into the situation I’ll end up concentrating on what I’m doing rather than dwelling on these self-defeating thoughts. The trick is recognizing that shyness is about to kick in, and having the courage to run ahead of it…

Third year in a row

This year’s income study from the Census Bureau is out. Guess what:

The number of Americans living in poverty rose by 1.3 million last year, to 35.9 million, while those without health insurance climbed by 1.4 million, to 45 million, the Census Bureau reported today.
It was the third straight annual increase for both categories.

As I did last year, I thought of David Brin’s prescient letter to Slashdot from 2000. This is the natural result of the Bush administration’s tax policy, and it’s getting harder to believe it isn’t intentional. (I’m recalling that footage from Fahrenheit 9/11—”Some people call you ‘the elite.’ I call you ‘my base.'”)
But why worry about these issues, when we can be discussing whether John Kerry really deserved that Purple Heart?

Soulless Veteran

As you may have heard, Max Cleland attempted to deliver a letter to George Bush’s Crawford campaign prop ranch, denouncing the ads questioning Kerry’s military record . While Cleland was unable to get the letter through the roadblock, apparently the Bush campaign asked another Vietnam veteran, Jerry Patterson, to exchange letters with him. Patterson had this to say:

“I tried to accept that letter and he would not give it to me,” said Patterson. “He would not face me. He kept rolling away from me. He’s quite mobile.”

(Via Talking Points Memo.)
This reminds me of someone else…

Angelus: As long as there’s injustice in the world, as long as scum like you is walking… well, rolling the streets… I’ll be around. (“Innocence”)
Angelus: Well, maybe next time I’ll bring you with me, Spike. Might be handy to have you around if I ever need a really good parking space. (“Passion”)
Angelus: Don’t worry, roller boy. I’ve got everything under control. (“Passion”)
Angelus: Things change, Spikey. You gotta roll with the punches. Well, actually, you pretty much got that part down, haven’t you? (“I Only Have Eyes For You”)

Hey, Angelus is a charming guy, but I’m not sure the Bush campaign should be emulating him.

Unattractive fantasies

Time for another entry in the never-ending series on small perturbations in my attractiveness. Via Sarah Weinman I learn that my choice of reading material doesn’t poll well with women:

Penguin books quizzed 1000 females about the holiday reads they would look for in a mate.
They found fantasy fiction like JK Rowling’s series, JRR Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels put girls off.
Sex and relationships expert Tracey Cox, from BBC2’s Would Like To Meet, said men escaping into alternative realities appear to have less grip on the real world.
She added: ‘They usually are so immersed in the world they’re experiencing through their book, they forget about real life.
‘This guy isn’t going to be trendy or particularly rich.’

Hey, just because I once wore a Starfleet uniform to a Renaissance Faire doesn’t mean I don’t have a grip on the real world!

Cardboard boxes: Not just for sneaking around.

I am in the process of moving to a new apartment, at least when I can sneak away from lab (where there has been no detectable decrease in the sense of urgency since the review meeting). Realistically I don’t expect blogging to be any more sporadic than usual, but it may become less topical since I haven’t had as much time to keep up with the news. Also, I may become crankier as the stress dials up. I’m sure I’ll be back to my usual cheerful (ha!) self by next week.

Emphasis on “traffic”.

Sign observed on the back of a truck: “I may be crazy, but I’m no Berkeley traffic engineer.”
Berkeley traffic patterns appear much more rational when one considers that they may be deliberately engineered for inefficiency. One way to encourage people to use bicycles or public transit is to make driving really annoying… it convinced me.

Damn Digestive Disorder

Someone remind me why anyone takes the Catholic Church seriously:

Church Denies 8-Year-Old’s Non-Wheat Communion
An 8-year-old girl who has a rare digestive disorder and cannot consume wheat has had her first Communion declared invalid because the wafer contained none.
Now, Haley Waldman’s mother is pushing the Diocese of Trenton and the Vatican to make an exception, saying the sacrament should be changed to accommodate the girl’s condition.

This sort of absurd Bible-lawyering on the part of the church is hardly a surprise; what is surprising is that in 21st century America there are people who will try to get the decision changed, rather than simply telling the church where to stick their unleavened-wheat communion wafer. What further demonstration do people need that these guys wouldn’t know spirituality if it bit them on their collective ass?
(Via Fafblog, which is really the only blog that can address this at an appropriate level.)